By Franklin Wilson
Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Elite League 111 Champions Fruta Conquerors is getting set to represent Guyana with pride come April 5-15 when the Confederation of North, Central America
and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) Caribbean Club Shield is contested in Curacao.
Club President, Colin Gittens indicated that qualifying for this competition, which will see clubs from thirteen (13) Caribbean nations competing, is a huge opportunity for Conquerors. Yesterday at its headquarters in Miami Florida, Concacaf conducted the official draw for the 2019 Concacaf Caribbean Club Shield.
Fruta Conquerors were drawn in Group A along with Curacao’s Jong Holland, Scholars International Sports Club of the Cayman Islands and Santiago de Cuba of Cuba. Gittens expressed delight at being able to win the GFF Elite League and the huge reward of representing the Golden Arrowhead at this prestigious tournament which forms part of the expanded Concacaf Club Competition Platform.
Concacaf has noted too that through this competition, the participating clubs continue working with the confederation towards a long-term vision to professionalize the club game across the region.
“This is a big opportunity for our club and more so the youths in football and we want to go into this competition with our local talent and showcase the talent of the youths here.”
Clubs across the region would seek to strengthen and improve its cadre of players for a competition of this nature by engaging overseas skills but Fruta Conquerors, which has to raise funds to take care of its expenses will be engaging talented players yes, but locally.
Gittens explains: “We have decided to take the position of using local talent and we will capitalize on using the transfer window to gain skillful players in specific areas from other clubs to strengthen our present fleet. Currently we are doing some scouting and engaging players who we feel would be capable to fill certain areas our team might be w
eak in. The executive committee is working along with our Coach.”
Yesterday’s draw, which sorted the clubs into three groups of three and one group of four for the first round of the competition, was conducted by Concacaf’s Director of Development, Jason Roberts.
After round-robin play, each group winner and runner-up will advance to the quarterfinals. The quarterfinal winners will automatically qualify to the semifinals. The two finalists will dispute the final on Monday, April 15, 2019.
The winner of the 2019 Concacaf Caribbean Shield, provided said team fulfills the Concacaf Regional Club Licensing criteria, will have the opportunity to face the fourth-place finisher of the 2019 Flow Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship in a playoff match to determine the fourth Caribbean representative in the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf League.
Preparations for Fruta Conquerors will be paramount as they seek to make use of this opportunity to further advance their reputation as the best in Guyana by matching the skill levels of their opponents in the Caribbean and coming out on top.
Plans are in train to engage a tough opponent from a neighbouring nation in warm up match but this is dependent on finances, President Gittens noted.
“If we manage to raise sufficient funds, the executive committee is exploring the possibility of engaging one of our Caribbean counterparts to have a warm up game to see the strengths and weaknesses of our squad. This would be a good opportunity for our players and even Technical staff to assess the team; it’s not confirmed as yet but it’s in our plan.”
The quest to raise the required funds has already commenced Gittens informed; approaches have been made to potential corporate entities here including the clubs flagship sponsor, Guyana Beverage Inc. which is a subsidiary of S.M Jaleel, owner and manufacturer of the popular Fruta Juice brand.
“Other than our title sponsor, we know that we need to raise other funds to take part in this competition. We would need the full support of corporate Guyana in order to fulfill this dream and goal of the club in making Guyana proud. To let you know also that we have already been getting some positive feedback from some of the entities that we have approached.”
Meanwhile, the Executive Committee and members of the Fruta Conquerors FC is extending sincere thanks to Guyana Beverage Inc. through the Fruta brand for its continued support to the club and to the overall development of football in Guyana.
And, in the inaugural edition of the Concacaf Caribbean Club Shield, Club Franciscain of Martinique was crowned champion with a 2-1 victory over Suriname’s Inter Moengotapoe. The Martinique club continued its outstanding 2018 international season by edging Trinidad and Tobago’s Central FC 2-1 in the Flow Caribbean Club Championship playoff to secure a spot in its first-ever Scotiabank Concacaf League, where it eventually fell to Nicaraguan side Walter Ferretti in penalties.
The groups for the 2019 Concacaf Caribbean Club Shield are as follows:
A1: Jong Holland (Curacao)
A2: Scholars International Sports Club (Cayman Islands)
A3: Fruta Conquerors Football (Guyana)
A4: Santiago de Cuba (Cuba)
B1: Weymouth Wales (Barbados)
B2: SV Real Rincon (Bonaire)
B3: Club Sportif Moulien (Guadeloupe)
C1: Hoppers FC (Antigua & Barbuda)
C2: Platinum Football Club (Saint Lucia)
C3: Rams Village Superstars (Saint Kitts & Nevis)
D1: Club Franciscain (Martinique)
D2: Dakota FC (Aruba)
D3: SV Robinhood (Suriname)
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